Epilogue, Part 11: A Renegade No More

The two of us rushed forward, and I got a bone staff ready to block his attack at my neck. I followed up with Bone Rush to counter, and he jumped back out of my reach before burrowing underground. Dispelling the staff, I concentrated on locating his aura and jumped out of the way of his attack right before he surfaced. While I was still in the air, I shot an Aura Sphere. Glancing up, Fenrir called up a Protect shield, dispelling my attack.

After I landed, I said, "I have to hand it to you, Fenrir; you're a good fighter, strong and smart. Despite all that we've done in a short time, and the fact that you haven't fully recovered from your fight with Meowth, I can tell that you're just getting warmed up."

His shield dropped, and he said, "Being the leader of rogue Pokémon doesn't just take strength, it takes brains. And, I'll be perfectly frank with you, I hate losing. From that, I've developed quite an endurance, if only to outlast any opponent that I face."

I smiled, "Good quality, but I'm just getting warmed up too."

Fenrir smiled back, "I can tell. This will be the most fun I've had in years."

I dashed forward with Extreme Speed, and managed to catch him off guard as I initiated Close Combat. However, after the first two or three punches, he started dodging them and fighting back. I got bitten a few times, but we wound up breaking apart after he dodged a Force Palm.

We both stood still, and the world seemed to go quiet for a moment as we observed each other for the next move.

Quick as a thought, he charged with Giga Impact, and, a split-second after, I used Copycat. The white aura shifting into the same purple and yellow one, I charged with my shoulder forward as Fenrir charged headfirst. His head rammed into mine as my shoulder impacted his chest. The two auras swirled and clashed together before we were blown apart by the resulting blast.

I managed to flip and land on my feet with one hand on the ground as I looked towards the dust cloud. After the dust cleared, I saw that Fenrir was still standing, but looking to be in about the same state I was. We both spent the next few moments catching our breaths as the backlash from using Giga Impact wore off.

We both stood up straight at about the same time, and I got back into my stance as he crouched, ready to leap forward again.

Fenrir charged forward first, but I had a bad feeling, so I used Detect.

As I moved to attack, Fenrir's mouth became wreathed with fire, and he bit into me with Fire Fang.

I dodged back, feeling the heat of the flames go by, before I used Extreme Speed to put some distance between us. Letting out a sigh of relief, I said, "Fire Fang? Heck of an ace you had. Is that what you tried to use on Ariados before getting knocked aside?"

"Your partner Hogan isn't the only one that got moves from his father. And, yes."

I thought hard about what to do next. If he connected with one of those, there's no guarantee that I'll be able to keep fighting. Reaching a decision, I activated Endure.

Fenrir raised an eyebrow, "Not so confident now?"

"Meowth always says there's no harm in playing it safe." I started charging Focus Punch while the Endure aura protected me.

Fenrir said, "You're not the only one who can do that." He concentrated, and the red aura appeared around him too. I cursed, but kept preparing the Focus Punch as he charged at me and bit into my arm with Fire Fang. Ignoring the pain, I kept concentrating and managed to get it ready. Twisting my hand around, I grabbed the side of his head with my arm still in his flaming mouth. With my fist glowing blue, I slammed him in the side with Focus Punch, forcing him to let go of my arm.

As he went flying, I nursed my arm in my other hand. I'd have to see Chimecho about that later. After Fenrir landed, I was on my guard again; he had Endure up, so he was not quite finished yet. Sensing for his aura in case he went underground again, I saw him getting up and he walked out of the dust cloud. Our Endure auras wore off at the same time.

Fenrir panted, "So… it's come down to… haah… who has the stronger will now… haah… hasn't it?"

I was breathing equally hard, "You've… haah… the strongest will… I've… haah… ever seen… in an opponent."

"No more… using Endure." he said. "We both attack… at the same time."

"The one who… falls…" I continued, "loses."

We both nodded and charged forward. Fenrir looked to be using Assurance, while I charged with a Force Palm. We both hit each other at the same time, him slamming his paw over my head as I used Force Palm on his body. He was sent flying back, and I closed my eyes as I focused all of my remaining energy on staying standing. My legs shook and nearly buckled, but I kept my feet under me. Cracking open one eye, I saw Fenrir fighting the same battle that I was, and he was quivering as the paralysis effect of my Force Palm hit him.

As Fenrir shook, he said, "Well… you've convinced me. I've always had the impression… that power… equals authority. And while… I hate to admit it… you are the stronger Pokémon… in both physical strength and character. If nothing else…" He fell forward as he finished, "…I could use some medical attention…" Fenrir fell over with a final thud.

Letting out a breath of relief, I sat down before crawling over to the Treasure Bag and pulling out a Sitrus Berry. There was no time to use Rest; Fenrir probably has a lot of internal bleeding right now. Eating the berry, I hauled myself up with the energy boost and shouldered the Treasure Bag before going over to Fenrir and hefting him over the back of my shoulders. I couldn't use an Escape Orb, since we weren't in a mystery dungeon.

-Meowth's POV-

In my line of work, both my past one and current one, I've seen a lot of different things. Not a lot of things surprise me anymore. But, when I saw Rio come back into Treasure Town with the leader of Team Renegade on his shoulders, that took the cake as far as surprises go. I had been the only one waiting at the crossroads; everybody else was either in the café or still in the infirmary.

I started saying, "Uh, Rio…?"

He shook his head, "No time." Going up the stairs towards the guild, he carried Fenrir up the stairs. I followed him, just out of hope for an explanation, there was some arguing between Rio and Jirachi, but he eventually agreed to help heal Fenrir along with Chimecho. On the side, I noticed that Drowzee was waiting by Savage's bedside, noting what was happening while he kept watch on Savage.

Jirachi seemed to be trying to keep calm as he spoke, "Rio, if this is whom I think he is, then would you care to explain why we're helping him?"

Rio shook his head, "I'll help explain when he wakes up."

I looked at Rio. He might be naïve sometimes, but he isn't stupid. I said, "Alright, I'll start gatherin' da rest o' da team ta meet up here."

As I did that, most were curious about what happened, and some were confused on Rio's thought process. Penny didn't seem all that happy about visiting Fenrir, but admitted that she was curious too. Vlad refused, but I could tell that he would probably be listening in anyway, just out of sight. Levi refused to go, and he was stubborn about it. Soon, I had all the other recruits in the infirmary, except Vlad, who was probably hiding in a wall or shadow anyway, and Levi. Mel and Savage were awake now, but Drowzee clearly pointed out that if Savage made any sign that he was trying to get up with his injury, that it was back to sleep for him.

After Fenrir woke up, he seemed confused for a minute before he saw Rio and looked like he understood. He looked through the crowd of our recruits for a bit before seeming put out. Shaking it off, he said, "Before I tell my story, I'd like to apologize for the actions of my former team."

Everybody spoke up at once, some questioning and some angry, but I picked out the important part and said, "'Former team,' ya said?"

He turned to me as everybody went quiet again and nodded, "Yes. Team Renegade is no more."

Vlad appeared from the floor, arms crossed, "Do you really think that a simple apology is going to fix everything?"

Fenrir didn't even hesitate, "No. Even though we were an exploration team, what my former team and I have done is inexcusable. Not just you; even the outlaws we've hunted didn't deserve all that we dealt them."

Hogan said, "Well, if you think that, then why did you let them go as far as they did?"

"The only thing that kept them from turning on me was my pretended apathy and 'only the strongest survive' philosophy. If I showed the slightest bit of weakness, they could've easily killed me and the team would've been even worse than before if anybody else took leadership."

Rose seemed shocked, but then said, "You said you had a story to tell…? Some sort of reason for doing what you did?"

As Fenrir told his story, I could tell why Rio felt like giving the guy a second chance. If he saw that anybody on his team was in danger, especially me or Manaphy, Rio probably would've torn them apart too. Vlad seemed to sympathize too, but he still looked a bit upset with Fenrir. Everybody's faces darkened when he got to the part about Levi, but when he said how bad he felt about it, and that he was willing to do whatever it took to make it up to him, they calmed down a bit.

After he finished, Fenrir said, "Again, I apologize. I knew that there would be danger in what I was planning, so I apologize to you three, Penny, Mel, and Savage, for my former team's actions, and I apologize to all of you involved for putting you at risk for my sake alone."

Penny murmured, "Guess it's fine, since you didn't seem to have a choice." Savage said, "Whatever, least I got a good fight out of it." Vlad crossed his arms and hmphed, but Mel slapped his side, and he said, "Mel accepts your apology, but don't think that I'll be happy to see you for a while."

Dash said, "Well, it's nice that you're apologizing for our sake, but I think you need to find Levi and tell him sorry. He hasn't exactly had nice things to say about you for, like, the entire time he was here on our team."

Fenrir cringed, but sighed and said, "He's within his rights." He started getting up from the bed and Chimecho said, "Sir, you really should rest some more."

Fenrir didn't bother looking over his shoulder as he said, "I'm finding Levi, now."

We all looked as he left the room. Siltram said, "Guy takes life way too seriously." Drowzee turned to Chimecho, "Should I go after him?"

Chimecho shook her head, "No, you should just focus on him," she said, pointing to Savage. "Take your eye off him for one minute that he's not sleeping, and he'll sneak off."

"Well, f*-"

Savage didn't even get to finish before Drowzee's eyes glowed and he was asleep again.

Rio spoke up for the first time since Fenrir started talking, "All the same, we'd better follow Fenrir. Things might get ugly, and that would be awkward, considering I'd like to recruit him."

Everything was quiet in the room except for Savage's snoring for a whole minute.

"WHAT?!"

-Levi's POV-

I grumbled as I looked for something to read to calm my nerves. Even the mere mention of meeting with my once-teammate had, for lack of a better phrase, ruffled my feathers.

I need something calming… something so sappy and cheery that it could lift anyone's spirits.

One book instantly came to mind. I looked around to make sure that I was alone and then flew over to two inconspicuous stacks of books and moved one aside, revealing a single, solitary book with a purple cover. The first book I found as a hatchling when it fell into World Abyss and had kept ever since.

A smile tugged at my lips as I read the cover in my mind. "10 Tales of Sir Lancer the Beedrill and Princess Butterfree". Yes, that should do it.

Picking it up with a chuckle I started to take it to my reading spot when I heard footfalls at the base of the tree. I paid it no mind, if it was one of the team, they could wait a few minutes while I read one of the brief tales. Opening the book on my reading stand, I froze when I heard, "Levi." That voice! How could he have found my nest?!

I kept completely silent, but he said, "I know you're up there. Two-and-a-half years and you still smell the same; like parchment and Octillery ink."

I frowned at the almost amiable tone he was using. He has no right to use that tone with me! Not after betraying me like that!

"You don't have to come down," Fenrir said with a sigh, "just listen. I'm sorry that I did what I did. I was angry. I never told you why I was focusing so much on the power of our team. That day with the Ariados, you and Freak, my two closest friends, were in peril. If that Ariados had his way, all of us would've been dead. I never wanted to see either of you in that situation again. All that I ever did, I did to protect you two."

"I know that you were trying to help me now," he seemed resigned as he said this, "but… At the time, all I saw was you taking my efforts to protect you and throwing it back in my face. If I had kept a clearer head that day, maybe you could've talked some sense into me, and Freak would still have been with us. I didn't dismiss him; he ran away. Specifically, he told me he couldn't take it anymore, and I told him to go if he couldn't. I kept this, though."

Something sailed through the window and clinked on the ground, it was an Explorer's Badge. "I didn't make the same mistake twice. I kept this so that he wouldn't be sent back to his place of origin." I felt some of my anger towards Fenrir return at the mention of my banishment.

"You need to understand, Levi. I knew that the Pokémon I was recruiting were dangerous. The only way that I could keep them from turning on us was to make them believe that I was stronger than them, and that I could take them down any time I wanted to. That's why I changed. I know that it's no excuse for what I did, but I just wanted you to know why. I'll leave you alone now." A light chuckle that I hadn't heard for three years floated up, "Knowing you, you were probably trying to read something when I came by."

As I heard the footsteps pad away, I picked up Freak's badge and dropped it into my wing, holding it closer to look at. Memories of our very first mission came to mind. We had to escort a Squirtle to visit his friend at Drenched Bluff. I chuckled at the memory. Fenrir growled at any Pokémon that got close, even if they weren't hostile (it was before things had supposedly gone south with Temporal Tower). When an actual enemy Pokémon got close, Freak panicked and threw every Stick and Geo Pebble that we had at it. Sticks and stones may break your bones, they say.

I started laughing out loud at my joke. I hadn't really been any better; I got slapped aside by the first Pokémon that I tried fighting against alone. If Fenrir hadn't been there to back me up, I might've cost us our first mission.

We always watched each other's backs…

I sighed and then put the badge on top of my book before taking flight. It only took a few moments of looking around before I found Fenrir padding towards Treasure Town. He stopped and turned around as he apparently heard me.

Before he said anything, I spoke up, "No, I do not forgive you for leaving me in World Abyss, but I am willing to give you a chance. I've always said that I believe in second chances, and taking it back now would make me a hypocrite."

"That's good," a new voice spoke up. "It would've been a bit awkward if you didn't." We both turned to look and the rest of the team, minus Savage and Mel, were walking up.

Rio turned to Fenrir and said, "Are you convinced now?"

Fenrir said, "Very well, if things will eventually be as all right as you say they will, then I don't have anything better to do. I'll gladly join your team."

I stopped short, "Wait, what? Did I miss something? When were we discussing adding Fenrir to the team?"

Meowth sighed and said, "'Parently, Rio's got it in his head that every reforming Pokémon needs to be our responsibility. Seriously, first me, then Drowzee, what, are we gonna open a clinic?"

One look at Rio told me that he wasn't going to budge on this. I sighed and accepted it, but not without a little payback.

I smiled and said in a sickly sweet tone, "Well, since Rio seems to be so effective at decision-making, perhaps he'd care to enlighten us about his choice about Miss Medicham?"

Rio's eyes widened and a blush spread across his face. Cathy joined in and said, "Yeah, Rio, what did you decide?" Everybody was looking at him now, and Fenrir seemed a little confused; this would be the first he's heard about it, after all.

I hummed merrily as I flew back off to my nest.


RAAAAAAHHHHH! I have RISEN! My Wi-Fi reader has been on the fritz for, like, aweek, and I've been unable to post this chapter for a while. But now I'm back! This isn't the last chapter. There's still the finale, so I'll see you then, and I promise it won't take nearly as long as last time. See you then!

-AJ 203